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sledding

Japan 10: The Japanese Toilet

"...is notoriously difficult for the uninitiated. One squats over this enameled hole in the floor that- if there is no plumbing ....-leads directly into the noisome pit itself. One hangs there, legs aching, awaiting deliverance. It is strange that a people who have without a murmur relinquished their own architecture in favor of plastics and prefabs, who have cheerfully cut down their forests, leveled their hills, dirtied their seas, who have turned their entire country over to that modern juggernaut, the automobile -that these same people should with such stubborn tenacity cling to such a medieval, even barbaric, device."

- Donald Richie, The Inland Sea (1971).

Richie exaggerates for dramatic effect. The squat pots remain, but they're not so bad. The advantage of the squat pot is that you can do your business without actually touching the thing. That, and the good exercise that it gives you. But if you insist on dropping your load in comfort, you can usually find a Western toilet. It's in the convenience store that's always conveniently nearby. In a park or a monastery, the Western toilet is labeled "handicapped." The Germans, of the "I hate ze bus pilgrims" fame, mentioned sleeping in the handicapped toilets, alongside the big spiders.

As if of an overreaction to Richie's criticism, now in the hotels you can find super-modern toilets. These products of Japanese ingenuity have a remote control and a cushiony heated seat. You can control the temperature and the intensity of your bidet jet, and even flush with more water for "big," or with less for "little." Personally, I was baffled by the remote and wasn't able to try out the device's more esoteric features.
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sledding

November 2017

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